Read #1 book on Hinduism and enhance your understanding of ancient Indian history.
Read #1 book on Hinduism and enhance your understanding of ancient Indian history.

Raju Ganapathy

Crime Thriller


3.5  

Raju Ganapathy

Crime Thriller


Sherlock Reincarnates As Curlocks

Sherlock Reincarnates As Curlocks

13 mins 235 13 mins 235

Preamble


One could say that Mr Cumberbatch playing the Sherlocks in the BBC series was a benediction. What if Sherlock and Watson had reincarnated? And that too in Bangalore city. Indeed, located in a not so posh area of Bangalore Curlocks Krish and Ganesh Wassan have been doing investigations of everything under the sun and the moon. One has never heard of them since these two were quiet guys until Curlocks saw in the newspapers that King Khan had some millions of followers on Instagram. He felt jealous and asked Wassan why they too can’t have followers of such magnitude. Wassan luckily has been keeping notes of all their exploits and decided to try their hand in publishing. What follows is their fantastic adventure. Enjoy!


Enter the duo


I was not named Ganesan Wassan for nothing. My father was a Sanskrit Pandit, and he loved Lord Ganesh. I got named after him. There was yet another reason which my father told me when I grew up a bit. Ganesh wrote the epic Mahabharata, non-stop, and understanding every word that he wrote. So, here I was, chronicling everything my friend Curlock did and presenting it to you the readers. There was nothing worth writing about how I grew up or the time spent in college. I was an ordinary citizen and a non-entity who seem to matter only when there are elections. Things changed when I met Curlocks. I felt worthwhile ever since I chronicled Curlocks’s accomplishments. My hero, whom I try to emulate, was Dr Watson. That character created by the genius Arthur Conon Doyle, but unlike him, I am not a doctor and have no exposure to war or the army. For a common man like me, life itself seemed like a daily battle, and I have been waging it since I started working. As such, a brief introduction as above about me is sufficient for the time being. In a later episode, I shall give a fitting introduction to Curlocks. 


It has been a ritual since I met Curlocks and moved into an apartment next door that we met for coffee after breakfast. This coffee at Curlocks place was no ordinary coffee. The coffee beans got procured from a single estate in Coorg owned by Mandanna and were a blend of both Robusta and Arabica variety. The beans were well-formed, and Curlocks informed me that they belong to Plantation A category. Curlocks himself would roast a sufficient quantity of beans that would last a week in his coffee machine. He would prepare the coffee extract in his coffee contraption and add cow’s milk, which these days was available in plenty, and sugar to taste. One must say that the coffee was excellent, and I looked forward to it every day, not only for the coffee but the discussion that followed as well. 


As we got sipping the coffee, Curlocks exclaimed, “King Khan has over 36 million followers on Instagram, and our PM has trumped Obama in the followership. Why don’t we try our hand in getting followership?” I said that I don’t have much experience in social media and would be happy to follow his guidance. Curlocks said not that I have much experience, but let me read up a bit and revert to you.


One thing about Curlock was that if something fascinates him, he will read up day and night until he felt that he has a grasp of things. So, for a few days, he got busy and was not saying much coffee ritual, notwithstanding. Three days later, while sipping our customary coffee, Curlock noted: “the first thing we would need to do was publish our works.” Since nobody knows us, the option we have was to try our hand at self-publication. I would need to spend some money on promotion so that people get to know about our exploits,” added Curlocks. I would also, during my morning run tomorrow, arrange to have an insert in the newspapers in the locality. He said that our target for the first year should be to reach 1 million followers by the year-end. “1 million,” I exclaimed. He said, “no bigger an ambition than reaching 5 Trillion USD for the Indian economy by 2024” with a wink.


I started to read through my journals to select a good story of Curlocks’s exploits, and a few days passed by when we heard a knock on the door while we had our coffee. One woman came howling about how her son has been missing, and she has gone to the police and filed an FIR too. It has been a week, but the police have been unhelpful so far. I have put together a gist of the conversation between Curlocks and the woman Santhamma, as the case summary.


Santhamma was about 50 years old and was widowed a few years ago. Since her husband used to work with the government, she got a pension, besides her livelihood as a food entrepreneur. She has been making snacks at home, and her son Manjunath takes care of the marketing. Over time her business has been doing well. Manjunath ties up with the retail stores, and her snacks got a good demand in the locality. Manjunath was about 22 years and did not focus on academics much. Since his father’s death, he has shown responsibility towards the family and has been doing the marketing work reasonably well. Her older clients pay her cash, and newer ones buy on credit.


Manjunath does both the supply and the cash collection. Though she has toyed with the idea of expansion, she was not sure as the income was good enough. Maybe after Manjunath’s marriage, when the daughter-in-law also joins, she could expand and then could hire additional help for supply. Manjunath wasn’t bad looking, but she was not sure if he had any girl in mind. Being of a friendly nature, she didn’t think that Manjunath had any enemies. He also did not smoke or drink as far she knew. She had asked some of his friends about his whereabouts that day but did not get any information. He had delivered the usual supplies that morning, came home for lunch, and left in the evening saying he was going to meet someone. Manjunath did not return home that night, and she had gone and made the complaint to the police station next day morning.


As Curlocks and I knew the Assistant Sub Inspector Gowda of the local Police station, we marched with the woman. Luckily Gowda was present, and he said so far, no trace of her son, but they have discovered a mutilated body by the railway track. Gowda advised that the woman not to accompany them.


The railway tracks have another important purpose in our country other than carrying the rail. One could see humans perched on the tracks and defecating in the open. It seems to me that we Indians love to commune with nature, and this was one of the ways. Give back post-food to mother earth directly what we take from her as food. One such lover of mother earth had found the body in the morning. As the location was a bit away from houses, nearby dogs didn’t find it nor the vultures. We had to close our nose as we walked by the railway track to the place where the body got found. The dead body, as such, got taken for post-mortem to identify the reason for death. Gowda told us that the face had got utterly mutilated, and the body had underwear covering the male organs. The pant, shirt, and footwear were missing. Gowda remarked railway tracks were a favourite destination for suicides, and this must be one such.


Curlocks did not pay attention to Gowda’s remarks as he had useful information about Manjunath. He had ruled out suicide for the time being. Curlocks as his want walked around a few paces in and around the body. At about 50 feet away from the spot, we found a stone slab where two people could comfortably sit. When we went there, Curlocks found a 350 ml empty bottle of cheap whiskey. There was some scattered food on the stone slab, evidence of men having sat there and drunk. Was it luck or his persistence, he found a single footwear lying on the mud beside the track. He picked it up and placed it in the plastic cover. There were no tell-tale signs of blood. Where was the other footwear? As we walked, further Curlocks eagle eye found the other footwear this time beside a shrub. Was the man so drunk that he could not walk, or was he getting dragged? Then we found a shirt lying near a bush some 100 meters away. A pair of pants was lying on the other side of the track rolled up. He folded the shirt and the pants in a plastic cover. The woman could confirm later that the shirt, pant, and the pair of slippers belonged to her son. If the man had carried his mobile phone, we didn’t find it. A piece of handy evidence lost. We had met a few of Manjunath’s friends as well and could gather that Manjunath had an occasional drink with them. Santhamma knew her son well but not enough.


The post-mortem said that the blood tested of rat poison and death resulted. Perhaps the body was left in the railway track and got run over by a passing train. Only a DNA test could prove if it were her son. Other evidence pointed in that direction, but not as proof.


Curlocks and I went to the tailor Ahmed whose label with address got stitched on the shirt collar. The stitching of labels to the collar was a usual practice carried out by tailors. Curlocks was not sure what new information we could get from the tailor. Little did we know what was in store for us. Curlocks and I were in for a shock when the weeping wife Noorjahan told us that the tailor has also been missing since the same day of the disappearance of Manjunath. Curlocks and I noticed that she looked to be in her twenties and quite attractive in spite of her troubled status. When asked if she knew anyone by the name of Manjunath, she confirmed and said that he supplies snacks to the shops in her street. Curlocks did not mention the death of Manjunath to her. Curlocks had noted the photo of Noor and Ahmed together. Ahmed looked to be in the late forties and looked healthy.


As Curlocks and I walked away, an old lady sitting next door and making hot pakoras invited both of us to taste her Pakoras. The smell of pakoras was inviting enough for us to agree. We were pleased to see that hot pakoras were served on a banana leaf rather than on a sheet of leaded newspaper. She had overheard our conversation and asked Curlocks was it about the ‘son of a bitch’ Manjunath that he had come to enquire. Curlocks nodded when she said that Manjunath had an eye for the tailor’s wife and would often come to the tailor with some alteration work or in the pretext of selling snacks, and this would lead to an argument between husband and wife. That ‘thevadiya’ (prostitute) Noorjahan would also respond to Manjunath’s overtures as he was good looking, unlike the tailor who was much older to her. The old lady added that the ensuing arguments were always the case after Manjunath leaves the place. That moron as if he could not find anyone better than this Mosalmon woman, that too a used one. The last comment was too much for Curlocks to swallow, and he threw the unfinished pakoras into the dustbin, paid her, and left the place. While we were about to leave, the old lady mentioned that she had no doubts that Noor had killed the tailor since she had seen Noor buying rat poison a week back. I could see that Curlocks eyes lit up when he heard the statement.


Curlock wondered aloud, where was the tailor Ahmed? We straightaway went to the police station and briefed Gowda. Curlocks suggested the disappearance of both the men had a link but cannot say how at this juncture. It was essential to find out what had happened to Ahmed. Gowda took care of this through his police network. Within a day, he called that a body has been lying unclaimed in the mortuary near Malur about 20 Kms away from our locality since the day of the disappearance of both Manjunath and Ahmed. We sped away in a taxi and took along Noor too. Noor identified the body as her husband’s, and the shirt he was wearing also had the label of his in the collar part. The mortuary staff handed over Ahmed’s mobile, wallet, and a train ticket from Krishnarajapuram to Malur to Curlocks. Noor was inconsolable, and we arranged to bring the body back for the funeral the next day. Finally, after the funeral got over, Curlocks mentioned to Noor that it was such a coincidence that both Ahmed and Manjunath were found dead on account of rat poison on the same day almost at the same hour. Noor went into a state of shock as she heard the first time as to what happened to Manjunath. As we led her into the house, Curlocks quickly inspected the home and found the half-used rat poison. He also found a medical file with records of visits to a gynaecologist and test reports mostly related to Noor and none for Ahmed. However, he did not find any mobile belonging to Noor. That explains why Manjunath had to come to their house to meet Noor. Curlocks placed Ahmed’s mobile on the table, but he had noted the numbers that got called on the day of the death and its eve. He found out from Manjunath’s mother that one of the numbers called had been Manjunath’s.


Curlocks by then had formed a theory but would not tell me. Curlocks needed some more information from Noor. The next day we came to meet Noor and found her still in a state of shock, and it became clear she needed to see a doctor. The counsellor at the NIMHANS said Noor was in a psychological state of shock, and she needs in-house treatment. But the counsellor could not specify how long would the procedure be required. Curlocks paid some advance for her treatment, and we returned home.


Curlocks explained his proposition. Did Noor, together with Manjunath, decided to dispose of Ahmed? Thus, Noor bought rat poison for mixing in the food and packed it for Ahmed. Was Ahmed going somewhere that day? Why had Ahmed called Manjunath that day was unknown? The record of the call was there. While drinking, both must have consumed the food prepared by Noor laced with rat poison. The fact that Ahmed consumed the food discounts the proposition that Noor and Ahmed had planned Manjunath’s murder. Maybe Manjunath had most of the food and succumbed to rat poison first. Though Ahmed did not intend the killing but saw an opportunity and must have dragged Manjunath’s body, and in the process, Manjunath’s footwear got dislodged at two different places. Ahmed removed Manjunath’s shirt and pants to make it challenging to identify Manjunath’s body and left him on the track. Ahmed must have pocketed Manjunath’s mobile and tossed it into the nearby lake. Why he went to Malur, we couldn’t guess. Then Ahmed too succumbed to rat poison and fell near the track. Noor had gone into a state of shock to have realized that she had killed both Manjunath and Ahmed. However, Curlocks added that this was all a conjecture, and only Noor could confirm her role in this gruesome episode as to who was the intended recipient of the poisoned food. Curlocks could only tell Santhamma that Manjunath got drunk and possibly fell on the track and got hit by some train. He didn’t inform her of the Ahmed and Noor angle to the case.


The police were tight-lipped about the case lest a communal fury gets unleashed given the societal situation. The loud-mouthed old lady, however, ensured that the word spread around that Noor had killed Ahmed and in the bargain, lost her lover too. A case of gossip media pronouncement without the evidence as it happens today. Police, however, dismissed the gossip as a mad woman’s rant. 


A week later, the counsellor from NIMHANS called Curlocks to say that Noor was pregnant, but there had been no improvement in Noor’s mental being. That said, Curlocks gave Noor a motive to kill Ahmed? Perhaps she got pregnant with an illicit liaison with Manjunath and was carrying Manjunath’s baby? Did Manjunath know? Beyond that, one has to wait for Noor to get well enough to state her role in the episode.

The gossip related to the case made Curlocks a celebrity in the locality, and shop keepers gladly discounted their sales to Curlocks for his daily needs.


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